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Minestrone is a hearty and classic Italian vegetable soup in a broth made with tomatoes, pesto, beans and pasta. Don’t forget the sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top!
My husband Jack is affectionately called “Soup Guy” by his friends. While most of them show up with beer, or ribs, or some other sort of ‘guy food’ when they get together to watch a football game – Jack shows up with a pot of soup – and his buddies love him for it!
I learned about Jack and his ‘soup guy’ reputation very early on in our relationship. So when Valentine’s Day came along about a month after we started dating, I decided to give him a soup cookbook as a gift.
Minestrone is one of the first soups that he made from that cookbook, Book of Soups: More than 100 Recipes for Perfect Soups (Culinary Institute of America), and this adapted recipe we’re sharing here today has long been one of our favorite soups ever since.
What is Minestrone?
Minestrone is a hearty vegetable soup. The name minestrone comes from the Italian word minestra which means ‘that which is served.’ Historically, this soup was a peasant’s meal, made with inexpensive, seasonal vegetables, plus any other ingredients on hand such as beans, pasta, or rice.
How do you make Minestrone soup?
Our Minestrone starts with a delicious chicken stock, then a variety of vegetables including cabbage, carrots, leeks, onion, tomato, chick peas and kidney beans are added. But we think this soup recipe is very special thanks to the addition of pancetta, a few pieces of rind from a wheel of Parmesan cheese, and a little bit of pesto stirred in as well. All of these add a wonderful depth of flavor, making this the perfect Minestrone soup in our book!
This Minestrone soup recipe was originally posted on A Family Feast in December 2012. We’ve updated the photos.
You may also like these other classic Italian soups:
- Italian Chicken Soup with Meatballs and Escarole
- Italian Fish Chowder
- Pappa al Pomodoro (Bread Soup)
- Slow Cooker Tuscan White Bean Soup
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
- 1 cup chopped, drained plum tomatoes, see notes below
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ pound vermicelli or angel hair pasta, broken into 2 inch pieces (1 cup)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 ounces pancetta chopped
- 1 ½ cups green cabbage chopped
- 1 cup sliced carrots
- 1 leek, white part only, cleaned and chopped (1 cup)
- 1 cup onion chopped
- 1 ½ tablespoons garlic minced
- 2 quarts chicken stock
- 1 ½ cups peeled and diced new red or all purpose potato (about 2 medium potatoes)
- 2–3 pieces parmesan cheese rinds
- 1 14.5-ounce can drained chick peas
- 1 14.5-ounce can drained kidney beans
- 1/3 cup pesto, see here or jarred
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus more as garnish
- Crusty bread for serving
- Cook the pasta according to package directions, cool and set aside.
- Heat olive oil in heavy bottom stock pot over medium heat and add pancetta. Cook just until the fat renders off the pancetta (do not brown), approximately 2 minutes.
- Add in cabbage, carrots, leeks, onions and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes.
- Add in chopped tomatoes and sauté for an additional 1 minute.
- Add in chicken stock, potato and Parmesan cheese rinds.
- Simmer for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
- Add the cooked pasta, chick peas, kidney beans and pesto and stir.
- Remove Parmesan rinds and discard.
- Season soup with salt and pepper and serve with additional grated Parmesan cheese and crusty bread.
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Place diced tomato in a sieve over a bowl and sprinkle on one teaspoon of kosher salt